If you’re a freelancer of any feather, you are your business. To secure desirable new projects, get discovered by new clients, and establish lasting relationships with past clients, then, you need a clear and consistent personal brand. Most people find self-promotion uncomfortable, but maintaining a personal brand is about so much more than bragging (actually it’s not about bragging at all). It’s about finding your specialty, building your reputation, and, ultimately, running a business that people recognize and trust. Follow these four steps to build a successful, trustworthy freelancing brand: Find Your Specialty As you gain experience, you’ll probably be tempted to diversify by reaching into new industries and adding new skills to your portfolio. Resist this temptation. Instead, find a profitable niche to target and specialize more, not less, as time goes on. A unique specialty is the cornerstone of your personal brand. On a practical level, it helps clients figure out, immediately, whether you’re a good fit for a project. It also makes you more money, since, by specializing, you’re uniquely positioned to tackle complex industry issues. A specialty also helps you establish a set demographic – age, education, gender, career level – for your audience. This is essential, since your audience will determine the specifics of your personal brand. Choose Projects that Make Sense Once you have your specialty, only apply for those projects that make sense for your niche. If you’re in a lull, sure, you might be willing to write about anything, but limiting the scope of your business actually strengthens your personal brand. New projects aren’t only a way to make money, they’re a way to add value to your business. Keep your personal branding consistent by choose projects that will make sense to prospective clients and followers. Sure, sometimes you just need to put food on the table, but taking any project that comes your way makes your brand look scattered and unfocused. This degrades your authority and can undermine your ability to land more lucrative thought leadership projects. Write for Pleasure Find that place where your specialty and your passion intersect and blog about it. Use your personal blog to establish a strong editorial voice for your personal brand. A strong voice can weave your many projects together into a single, coherent narrative. Make your blog and brand authentic. It’s definitely possible to find success by exaggerating your importance or writing things you don’t actually believe, but that success isn’t sustainable. Instead, build trust with a blog that represents you authentically. Add your blog to your professional website with a comprehensive web hosting service like Wordpress. This makes it easy for potential clients to access your thought pieces. Alternatively, post your blogs on a community like Medium or LinkedIn to promote content discovery. Build Credibility with Branding Methods Even career wordsmiths should leverage the power of visuals, next to the power of words. Use traditional visual branding techniques – like logos, consistent brand colors, consistent fonts, and a consistent visual style – to build an appealing visual brand that weaves together your website, blog, and social media. You don’t have to dish out money on a designer to build visual value for your personal brand. Use a free online tool to create the content yourself. I use DesignBold, which has thousands of free stock photos and includes built-in features, like a color palette, that promote consistent branding. Promote Your Work on Social Media What’s the point of having a personal brand if you can’t leverage it? Share your work on social media to engage with your followers to build online community around you specialty. A loyal following drives traffic, and potential clients, to your pieces. New clients will often use your social media accounts to gauge your authority as a thought leader. To be a leader, after all, you need followers. Keep your personal brand consistent on social media to attract interested, engaged followers and don’t be afraid to network and reach out to others.